What measures should be taken to prevent future waves of pandemic disaster?
- First, we need inputs of a strong surveillance system to identify or predict future waves. Identifying upcoming waves is very important in mitigating a catastrophe. The current disaster is mainly because of our failure to predict waves due to unreliable testing and under-reporting of cases and deaths. Hence, we need to improve on the following,
- The Central and State government should use real-time data by encouraging reliable reporting and initiating standardised definitions.
- There is a needs to strengthen review mechanisms. It will detect the outbreak in the initial stages and extinguish it before the pandemic spreads to other areas.
- Simultaneously, genomic sequencing in real-time in the fixed proportion of samples needs to be prioritized. It will identify the Mutant variants causing outbreaks.
- Second, ramping up vaccination manufacturing to ensure universal vaccination for all not only in India but globally. India has a proven capacity to scale up testing facilities within a short period of time. Thus,
- The Central government should invite foreign manufacturing firms to collaborate with Indian firms under the ‘Make in India’ Programme’.
- Fast-tracking the manufacture of all vaccines that has been approved for use by various regulatory authorities through a single-window clearance.
- Third, since 2009, WHO had declared six public health emergencies of international concern. India cannot always rely on reactive systems for each pandemic. Hence, India needs to plan for preventing and managing pandemics in the future. Future plan should focus on,
- Nearly 60% of known infectious diseases and up to 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin. Adopting the ‘One Health’ agenda can prevent future pandemics. Because it ensures that environmental health and animal health are given similar priority as human health.
- Greater financial allocations, increasing vaccination capacity, applied research, enhancing effective communication, and monitoring effectiveness will strengthen India’s role in the future for preventing and managing pandemics.
- Finally, need to build a robust public health workforce to provide efficient public health responses.
- Front-line workers play an indispensable part in surveillance, contract-tracing, and mobilising people for primary healthcare services, including vaccination. Hence, we need to ensure that one Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker is hired for every 1,000 people. Further, an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and nurse practitioner are hired for every 5,000 people.
- To provide access to critical care capacity for all, we need to ensure at least one hospital with 100 beds. It should include beds with emergency and critical care services that caters to a population of 30,000-50,000.
Source: The Hindu